Slow Cooker Chuck Wagon Beans!


This is an old recipe that my mother used to make when we had a busy day ahead and she knew she wouldn't have time to be in the kitchen a lot.  I remember having this on Sundays sometimes after church, in the afternoon, because it was something she could have ready when we got home.   Even though this is similar to chili, it's more like a bean stew, if that makes sense.  It tends to be thicker and more like cooked beans.

 If you add cornbread to this, it makes a good meal though.   Put it all in the slow cooker the night before and dinner is ready for the next day.

 Here is what you will need:

4 cups dried pinto beans, uncooked (washed and sorted)
9 cups water
1 large (29 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
1 (10oz.) can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 green bell pepper diced
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tb. bacon drippings
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 Tbs. chili powder
1/2 - 1 tsp. hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
1 1/2 -2 lbs. ground chuck

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Vidalia onion, diced or green onion

Make sure to wash and sort through the beans, picking out any rocks or shriveled beans.  Place the beans, water and all of the other ingredients except the ground chuck in a large slow cooker (at least 5-6 quart).   Brown the ground chuck in a skillet on the stove and drain.  Place it in the slow cooker with the other ingredients.   Set on low and cook for 8-10 hours.   At the end of the cooking time taste for seasoning.  This might need a tad more salt or hot sauce according to your preference.

Some of the myths about cooking dried beans both in the slow cooker and on the they have to be soaked overnight and you cannot salt them before they are cooked or they will never get soft, are just that myths.  You can presoak beans and it does lessen the cooking time, but in a slow cooker it really makes very little difference. 

If I am cooking them on the stove I like to bring them to a boil for a few minutes and then drain the water, add new cold water and start them from there.  This does remove some of their more...uh, explosive properties, if you know what I   The one about not salting, I have no idea where that came from, because it's absolutely not true and I actually think they are hard to salt and get tasty after they have cooked and are best when salted from the start.

This is a really good meal when served with cornbread and either the Cornbread Hoe Cakes or Aunt Vel's Sour Cream Cornbread are the perfect choices!

Garnish with chopped Vidalia onion and shredded cheddar cheese!
Chuck Wagon Beans!


  1. I remember the first time I tried to do beans in my crock pot...I put them on and left for work...when i got home I could smell that they had been cooking all day, but they were hard as rocks...I was told it was because I salted them before they were cooked...Now I always soak overnight, pour off the soaking water and add new...then wait til they've cooked before salting. I do however cook them in chicken broth sometimes and I know that has salt in it and the beans are never hard so...who knows! I say, if it aint broke, dont fix it...and I just wait. I am going to try this tonight. I had some ground beef I needed to use up anyway and I love pintos.

    1. I prefer to add salt early on, and it has never been a problem. I agree that they are harder to salt properly after they have cooked and are best when salted from the start.
      If the beans were still hard after cooking all day, I believe it's more likely due to them being too old, than salting them too early.
      I remember cooking some beans that my wife had stashed in the pantry for who knows how long, and they simply would never get tender. After two attempts, I threw the rest of them out. Apparently, even dried beans can eventually get too old.

  2. I wonder if you could use canned pintos and just reduce the cooking time.

  3. This sounds delicious. Thanks for the recipe!


  5. My crockpot was full and running over I had to take some of the juice out so it would all fit. I have a regular size crockpot is this recipe for a bigger one?

    1. The directions say to use a large slow cooker. "Place the beans, water and all of the other ingredients except the ground chuck in a large slow cooker (at least 5-6 quart)."
      Any time you cook dried beans in a slow cooker, use a large one, because when they swell up they at least double in size.



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